Duke, which had won its previous four games with a deliberate spread offense, tested top-ranked Virginia's patience with the strategy today and came out a 68-47 loser in an Atlantic Coast Conference game at University Hall.
In raising its ACC record to 8-0, 18-0 overall, and running the nation's longest Division I winning streak to a school-record 23 games, the Cavaliers were not surprised by Duke's ploy. The Blue Devils (2-5, 11-8) ran theirir attack well for a while but couldn't score.
Gene Banks, who led his team with 18 points and 14 rebounds, made a 14-foot shot for a 10-8 Duke lead with 11:30 left in the half. If thte visitors had any idea Banks' basket would account for their last points for the next eight minutes 36 seconds, they might have junked the strategy.
"We wanted to use our quickness against their height but we couldn't use the spread as well as we could," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski explained. "I don't know even if we had played a perfect game we could have beaten them."
During those scoreless 8 1/2 minutes, Duke threw the ball away five times and missed five shots on 10 consecutive possessions and Virginia charged ahead, 18-10, with 3:19 left in the half. Jeff Lamp, who finished with 20 points and Lee Raker, who scored 18, led the offensive spurt.
"We just tried to play tough defense and make sure we took only good shots," said Lamp, who also had six rebounds. "They spread out, but we didn't give them anything easy. I think our defense was the key to the game."
Virginia didn't give Duke anything Had it not been for Bank's acrobatic moves, Duke might still be trying to eclipse the 40-point mark. By the time he scored to break his team's scoreless drought, Virginia had gotten its game in gear. A Lamp basket and a Raker follow-up shot had the Cavs in front at intermission, 22-13.
Duke continued to be patient but started to make the open shots. A Kenny Dennard 16-footer finished off a 12-6 Duke spurt and brought his team to within five, 36-31. The Devils never got closer.
Duke slipped into another blue funk period, this one lasting nearly five minutes. In that time, freshman Othell Wilson started the Cavs running. Ralph Sampson, shut down early by Duke's sagging defense, began hitting the boards [13 rebounds, 10 points] and Lamp and Raker connected from long range.
"My job is to push the ball upcourt and get it to the open man," said Wilson, who was exceptional with 10 points, seven assists, three steals andd no turnovers in 24 minutes. "Once we got ahead they couldn't hold the ball on us."
Sampson scored two baskets and Lamp connected on a fallaway jumper from the corner and Virginia's once-shaky five-point lead was now 42-31 with 10:48 to play. Wilson's quick feet and hands then put the finishing touches on weary Duke.
The point guard slipped behind Duke defenders, came out with a perfect bounce pass from Jeff Jones and converted a twisting reverse layup. He was fouled and completed the three-point play for a 45-31 lead. On Duke's next possession, Wilson stole the ball from Banks -- one of 10 turnovers credited to the senior forward -- and rifled a pass to Raker, who connected from the corner. After another mistake, Raker threw in another 20-footer and Virginia led, 49-31, with 8:47 remaining.
Virginia Coach Terry Holland had only praise for his defense. "We just wanted to take our time and put on good pressure defensively. For the most part we kept good pressure on without giving up easy shots."
The Cavaliers, who travel to Chapel Hill Tuesday night to take on North Carolina (7-1, 16-4) for first place inin the conference, shot 51 percent from the field and had three more rebounds than aggressive Duke. But statistics hardly told the story of today's game, clearly dominated by the Caviliers.